By Matt Vensel
10:30 AM EDT, August 30, 2011
Mark Reynolds hit another home run -- a solo shot, of course -- in Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. It was his 31st home run of the year, a single-season total that puts him in the top 25 in team history. Six more and he'll break into the top 10. Eight more and he will be in the top five.
We figured the home runs would come when the Orioles acquired Reynolds from the Diamondbacks this winter (he averaged nearly 35 long balls in his past three seasons). We wondered if 200-plus strikeouts would come with him, too, or another season with a batting average below the Mendoza line.
But with 30 games left, Reynolds is batting .226, so he’s clear of the .200 mark. He is second in the majors with 157 strikeouts, though it looks like he will fall short of the 200-strikeout mark he passed in 2008 to 2010, including a record 223 in 2009. So while he’s no Ichiro when it comes to making contact -- when he does, heads up -- Reynolds has had a fine bounce-back year in Baltimore.
His defense has come around, too, after he committed a slew of errors in the first half. He has been moved from third base to first, giving the Orioles flexibility heading into the offseason.
Is he a perfect player? No. It would be nice if more of his homers came with runners on the bases. But has he exceeded expectations in his first season in the AL East? I’d say slightly so.
I figured there would be an adjustment period for Reynolds after he was traded to the toughest division in baseball, and there was. But after June 1, no player in baseball has hit more home runs than Reynolds, who has hit 24 during that span (so has Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who also homered on Monday night). His batting average has also gone up nearly 40 points since then.
Your turn: Has Reynolds exceeded your expectations in 2011?
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